Growing up, I always tried my best to be a good Christian. I never felt like I could make it, though, since I consistently messed up and sinned again.
But the older I got, and the more in love with Jesus I fell, I began to realize that this idea of being a “good or bad Christian” wasn’t even biblical and was destructive to my faith.
This article will discuss why it is not biblical, and what we are called to be instead.
To show why it isn’t biblical to think of yourself as a good or bad Christian, we must ask a few questions.
What Is a Good Christian?
A good Christian is something that’s non-existent, as explained above. Let’s dive into what the Bible says about our sinful condition and why there is no one who is righteous, not one.
1 John 1:8-10: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Mark 7:20-23: “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
John 8:34: “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
What Are Examples of Good Works in Christianity?
Can my works save me?
The answer is a massive and resounding no!
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Salvation is based on God, not on us. If salvation depended on how “good” we were or not, then not a single person would get to heaven.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23, NLT).
Salvation comes because of what Jesus did, not what we have done or ever will do. I merely have to confess Jesus is Lord and believe, and I will be saved (Romans 10:9).
When we have the Spirit indwelling us, the outpouring of that work will result in good works.
Can Works Keep Me Saved?
To believe that once I am saved, I have to act like a “good Christian” to stay saved goes against the gospel’s very fabric. It shifts the gospel back to personal works for salvation.
If works could not get me saved, then works cannot keep me saved. If being “good” does not get me to heaven, then it cannot keep me there.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous (1 John 1:21, NLT).
This is the great mystery of grace. You don’t have to worry about being a “good Christian” because even if you mess up, Jesus is there, ready to defend you and make you pure once again.
Being a good or bad Christian is not biblical. There are only Christians and non-Christians.
Can I Do Whatever I Want Since I Have Grace?
We, as humans, tend to exchange one extreme for another. When many people realize that they can’t be a good or bad Christian and that their works cannot get them or keep them saved, they will swing to the other side of the pendulum, which is just as dangerous.
This dangerous ideology says that since it’s all about Jesus’ grace, I can go on purposely sinning and living the life I want, and his grace will forgive me. The Bible warns us of this:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? (Romans 6:1, NLT).
The question is not about being a good or bad Christian, but if I am genuinely willing to die to the flesh and live my life for Christ?
Have I made him ultimately the Lord of my life, or am I making myself Lord and following only my desires?
Though works do not get me saved, they can reveal my heart and show who I believe the Lord of my life is.
If I claim to be saved but purposefully indulge in a sinful lifestyle and am unwilling to change my ways, then I am showing from my actions that I don’t believe Jesus is Lord. If I honestly did think he was my Lord, then I would submit my life to his words.
I am not talking about messing up or accidentally sinning. We all do this, and there is nothing to fear if we do (remember Jesus is our advocate). I am speaking about habitual, continual, unrepentant sin.
I cannot make excuses that I am a “bad Christian,” saying I am saved, but I like to do whatever I want. It isn’t a bad or good issue, but a Lordship issue.
When I got saved, my past sinful self died with Jesus on the cross.
So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (Romans 6:11, NLT).
The answer is that no, being a “good Christian” is not biblical and goes against the Bible because it makes our faith based on works.
The answer is happy holiness. As we grow in our faith closer to Jesus, our love for him calls us to change our actions more and more. To be holy means to be set apart. As we draw closer to Jesus in love, we happily set our lives apart from the world more.
Some may say that “they are good Christians,” but this is not true. They are just Christians who are happy to submit their lives to Jesus’ Lordship because they are in love.
Since they do this daily, they are being transformed to look more like him (2 Corinthians 3:18). When you see a Christian on fire for God, it is not because of their works; their heart posture has made them look a lot like Jesus.
The goal was never to be good, but always to love Jesus as you become more like him.
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/marchmeena29
Taylor Jensen is a missionary, pastor, and world traveler. His passion is to help equip believers with practical ways to ignite their faith and bring Jesus into the world around them. That is the goal of his personal blog Fireplace Faith. Subscribe here to get his Free Ebook “Choosing Hope,” about his time as a missionary in Cambodia. Reach out to him any time through his blog or through his social media accounts @taylorcjensen.